Intoxicated Driving at a Military Installation
At military installations, investigations for driving while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by a controlled substance are investigated by law enforcement personnel identified as military police, security police, civilian guards, or DOD police.
If you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at MacDill AFB or any other military installation, you might receive notice of a preliminary suspension of your driving privileges on the military base. You might also be charged with intoxicated driving or another traffic offense in a DD Form 1408 (Armed Forces Traffic Ticket) or a DD Form 1805 (United States District Court Violation Notice).
The DD Form 1805 is provided to the U.S. Magistrate for violations. Those violations include State traffic laws made applicable to the installation under the Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 13), app C, and other violations of Federal law.
Federal DUI cases that begin at MacDill Air Force Base are prosecuted at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, at the Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse.
Because these cases are relatively rare, few attorneys have much experience defending people accused of driving while intoxicated at a military installation.
Attorneys for DUI on Military Installations in Florida
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about procedural rules and how they are carried on the military base and in federal court. The first step is understanding all the unique issues that apply to an intoxicated driving incident that occurs at a military installation or involves a member of the military.
The goal in these cases is resolving all aspects of the case on the best possible terms. At the Sammis Law Firm, we have years of experience handling these complex and unique DUI cases in state and federal court. The rules and procedures used by the military are very different from the rules and procedures used in most DUI cases in the civilian world.
Our criminal defense attorneys for federal cases understand the unique issues that arise when drunk or impaired driving allegation occurs at a military installation, including at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. We also represent members of the military arrested for DUI when outside a military installation in the greater Tampa Bay area.
For any type of crime allegedly committed at MacDill Air Force Base, including offenses that occur at the Main Exchange, Commissary, Shoppette, Class Six store, Military Clothing Store, or the AAFES Service Station, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Act quickly. After a DUI arrest or incident on base, the clock starts ticking. For the administrative suspension pending with the DHSMV, you only have ten (10) calendar days to demand a formal review hearing. For the on-base immediate suspension, you only have fourteen (14) calendar days to request the administrative hearing.
If you miss one of those deadlines or don’t follow all of the procedural rules when making the request, you might waive right to challenge the suspension or get it overturned.
Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case.
Consequences of DUI on a Military Installation
In addition to the administrative or disciplinary action under current civilian personnel regulations or State laws, the additional consequences to a member of the military after an intoxicated driving incident can include:
- a written reprimand;
- a conviction by courts–martial or a civilian court;
- the imposition of nonjudicial punishment or Article 15;
- administrative reduction or separation;
- bar to reenlistment;
- complete an alcohol and drug abuse program; or
- an administrative suspension of driving privileges under AFI 31-218(I).
According to AFI 31-218(I), an incident of intoxicated driving can include one or more of the following:
- Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle under any intoxication caused by alcohol or drugs in violation of UCMJ, Art. 111 or a similar law of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is being operated.
- Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher on a military installation or in an area where traffic operations are under military supervision.
- Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher in violation of the law of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is being operated.
- Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 but less than 0.08 in violation of the law of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is being operated if the jurisdiction imposes a suspension or revocation solely on the basis of the BAC level.
The term “driver” used throughout the rules is defined to include any person who drives or is in physical control of a motor vehicle. A driver is in physical control when in a position to control the motor vehicle, whether to regulate or restrain its operation or movement.
For example, actual physical control would include sitting in a parked car behind the steering wheel, keeping it in restraint or in a position to control its movement. The word “driver” is interchangeable with the word “operator.”
Administrative Suspension of Driving Privileges under AFI 31-218(I)
A DUI accusation outside a military installation typically comes with two different and distinct proceedings under state law. The first is the administrative suspension with the DHSMV, and the second is the criminal accusation resolved in state court. Two similar types of proceedings are triggered when a drunk or impaired driving accusation occurs on the military installation.
To make matters even more complicated, if you were arrested for DUI off base, in addition to fighting the DHSMV administrative suspension and the criminal case in state court, the arrest might also trigger an on-base suspension. An attorney can help during all three processes.
The suspension of driving privileges at the military installation is defined in AFI 31-218(I), as the “temporary withdrawal by an installation commander of a person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle on a military installation for up to 12 months. Privileges normally are automatically restored on the day after the date the suspension ends.” This type of suspension is not typically reported on your official state-issued driving record.
This penalty is different from the suspension of a driver’s license, which is defined in AFI 31-218(I) as the “temporary withdrawal by formal action of State, host nation, or overseas command authority of a person’s license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle on the public highways.”
In Florida, the suspension of a driver’s license typically applies under state law when the arresting officer makes an arrest for DUI off the base, and it triggers the administrative suspension through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
The rules of the on-base suspension are found in AFI 31-218(I) and the local rules, including MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE INSTRUCTION 31-116 (MACDILLAFBI31-116 6 DECEMBER 2017). After receiving notice of the immediate suspension, you should immediately retain a DUI attorney experienced in representing military members after an on-base administrative suspension.
If you are not guilty of the intoxicated driving incident or if other problems exist in the case, then you should fight the administrative suspension by demanding an administrative hearing. We can help you spot the issues in your case, understand the long-term consequences of the accusation, and fight the case appropriately.
Can Driving Privileges be Suspended or Revoked at the Military Installation?
According to AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–4(a)(3), explains the suspension or revocation of driving or privately owned vehicle registration privileges. The installation commander or designee may administratively suspend driving privileges on the installation for cause, or any lawful reason.
Immediate suspension of installation or overseas command POV driving privileges pending resolution of an intoxicated driving incident is authorized for active duty military personnel, family members, retired members of the military services, DOD civilian personnel, and others with installation or overseas command driving privileges, regardless of the geographic location of the intoxicated driving incident.
The suspension is authorized for non–DOD affiliated civilians only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in areas subject to military traffic supervision.
After a review of available information as specified in paragraphs 2–6, installation driving privileges will be immediately suspended pending resolution of the intoxicated driving accident in the following circumstances:
- Refusal to take or complete a lawfully requested chemical test to determine the contents of the blood for alcohol or other drugs.
- Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent by volume (0.08 grams per 100 milliliters) or higher or in violation of the law of the jurisdiction being assimilated on the military installation.
- Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 percent by volume but less than 0.08 percent blood alcohol by volume in violation of the law of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle is being operated if the jurisdiction imposes a suspension solely on the basis of the BAC level (as measured in grams per 100 milliliters). (d) On an arrest report or other official documentation of the circumstances of an apprehension for intoxicated driving.
Revocations in Intoxicated Driving Cases
Driving privileges are subject to revocation when an individual fails to comply with any of the conditions requisite to the granting privilege. Revocation of military installation driving and registration privileges is authorized for military personnel, family members, DOD civilian employees, contractors, and other individuals with installation driving privileges. For civilian guests, revocation is authorized only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in the areas subject to military traffic supervision.
For civilian guests, revocation is authorized only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in the areas subject to military traffic supervision.
Driving privileges will be revoked for a mandatory period of not less than one (1) year in the following circumstances:
- The installation commander or designee has determined that the person lawfully apprehended for driving under the influence refused to submit to or complete a test to measure the alcohol content in the blood or detect the presence of any other drug as required by the law of the jurisdiction or installation traffic code or by Service directive.
- A conviction, nonjudicial punishment, or a military or civilian administrative action resulting in the suspension or revocation of driver’s license for intoxicated driving. Appropriate official documentation of such conviction is required as the basis for revocation.
When revocations follow temporary suspensions, the revocation period is computed from the date the original suspension was imposed, exclusive of any period during which full driving privileges may have been restored pending resolution of charges.
Consider the following example. Privileges were initially suspended on 1 January 2000 for a charge of intoxicated driving with a BAC of 0.14 percent. A hearing was held, extreme family hardship was substantiated, and privileges were restored on 1 February, pending resolution of the charge.
On 1 March 2000, the driver was convicted of intoxicated driving. The mandatory 1–year revocation period will consist of January 2000 plus March 2000 through January 2001, for a total of 12 months with no installation driving privileges.
Implied Consent at a Military Installation
According to AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–3(a), explains the term “implied consent” for blood, breath, or urine tests.” Persons who drive on the military installation shall be deemed to have given their consent to evidential tests for alcohol or other drug content of their blood, breath, or urine when lawfully stopped, apprehended, or cited for any offense allegedly committed while driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle on military installations to determine the influence of intoxicants.
Under AFI 31-218(I), the test may be administered only if the following conditions are met:
- The person was lawfully stopped while driving, operating, or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on the installation.
- Reasonable suspicion exists to believe that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- A request was made to the person to consent to the tests combined with a warning that failure to voluntarily submit to or complete a chemical test of bodily fluids or breath will result in the revocation of driving privileges.
The law enforcement official relying on implied consent will warn the person that driving privileges will be revoked if the person fails to submit to or complete a requested chemical test. The person does not have the right to have an attorney present before stating whether he or she will submit to a test, or during the actual test. Installation commanders will prescribe the type or types of chemical tests to be used. Testing must follow certain policies and procedures listed in AFI 31-218(I).
The results of chemical tests conducted under the implied consent provisions of this regulation may be used as evidence in courts–martial, nonjudicial proceedings under UCMJ, Art. 15, administrative actions, and civilian courts.
Appeal or Reconsideration Request after the Administrative Hearing
The administrative due process requirements for suspensions and revocations are found in AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–6. Under these rules, Individual Services will promulgate separate regulations establishing administrative due process procedures for suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
For cases at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, a preliminary suspension for intoxicated driving remains in effect until the installation commander makes a final decision. Requested hearings must take place within a reasonable period, which the installation commander determines. For offenses other than intoxicated driving, suspension or revocation of the installation driving privilege will not become effective until the installation commander or designee notifies the affected person and offers that person an administrative hearing.
For offenses other than intoxicated driving, suspension or revocation of the installation driving privilege will not become effective until the installation commander or designee notifies the affected person and offers that person an administrative hearing.
If the revocation or suspension is imposed after the administrative hearing, the person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked will have the right to appeal or request reconsideration. Such requests must be forwarded through command channels to the installation commander within 14 calendar days from the date the individual is notified of the suspension or revocation resulting from the administrative hearing. The suspension or revocation will remain in effect pending a final ruling on the request.
For drunk driving or driving under the influence offenses, reliable evidence readily available will be presented promptly to an individual designated by the installation commander for review and authorization for immediate suspension of installation driving privileges.
Reliable evidence includes witness statements, military or civilian police reports of apprehension, chemical test results if completed, refusal to consent to complete chemical testing, videotapes, statements by the apprehended individual, field sobriety or preliminary breath test results, and other pertinent evidence.
The immediate suspension should not be based solely on published lists of arrested persons, statements by parties not witnessing the apprehension, or telephone conversations, or other information not supported by documented and reliable evidence.
Reviews typically will be accomplished within the first normal duty day following the final assembly of evidence. Installation commanders may authorize the installation law enforcement officer to conduct reviews and authorize suspensions in cases where the designated reviewer is not reasonably available and, in the judgment of the installation law enforcement officer, such immediate action is warranted. Air Force Security Forces personnel act in an advisory capacity to installation commanders. Review by the designated officer will follow as soon as practical in such cases.
Air Force Security Forces personnel act in an advisory capacity to installation commanders. Review by the designated officer will follow as soon as practical in such cases.
When a suspension notice is based on the law enforcement officer’s review, there is no requirement for confirmation notice following subsequent review by the designated officer. For active duty military personnel, final written notice of suspension for intoxicated driving will be provided to the individual’s chain of command for immediate presentation to the individual.
Air Force Security Forces provide a copy of the temporary suspension to the individual at the time of the incident or may provide a copy of the final determination at the time of the incident, as predetermined by the final action authority. For civilian personnel, written notice of suspension for intoxicated driving will normally be provided without delay via certified mail.
Air Force Security Forces personnel provide a copy of the temporary suspension to the individual at the time of the incident or may provide a copy of the final determination at the time of the incident, as predetermined by the final action authority. If the person is employed on the installation, such notice will be forwarded through the military or civilian supervisor. When the notice of suspension is forwarded through the supervisor, the person whose privileges are suspended will be required to provide written acknowledgment of receipt of the suspension notice.
When the notice of suspension is forwarded through the supervisor, the person whose privileges are suspended will be required to provide written acknowledgment of receipt of the suspension notice.
Requirements for the Suspension for Intoxicating Driving Notices of suspension for intoxicated driving will include the following:
- The fact that the suspension can be made a revocation under paragraph 2–4b.
- The right to request, in writing, a hearing before the installation commander or designee to determine if post driving privileges will be restored pending resolution of the charge; and that such request must be made within 14 calendar days of the final notice of suspension.
- The right of military personnel to be represented by counsel at his or her own expense and to present evidence and witnesses at his or her own expense. Installation commanders will determine the availability of any local active duty representatives requested.
- The right of DOD civilian employees to have a personal representative present at the administrative hearing in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Written acknowledgment of receipt to be signed by the individual whose privileges are to be suspended or revoked.
- If a hearing is requested, it must take place within 14 calendar days of receipt of the request. The suspension for intoxicated driving will remain in effect until a decision has been made by the installation commander or designee, but will not exceed 14 calendar days after the hearing while awaiting the decision. If no decision has been made by that time, full driving privileges will be restored until such time as the accused is notified of a decision to continue the suspension.
- Hearing on suspension actions under paragraph 2–4a for drunk or impaired driving pending resolution of charges will cover only the following pertinent issues of whether:
- The law enforcement official had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- The person was lawfully cited or apprehended for a driving under the influence offense.
- The person was lawfully requested to submit his or her blood, breath, or urine in order to determine the content of alcohol or other drugs, and was informed of the implied consent policy (consequences of refusal to take or complete the test).
- The person either:
- refused to submit to the test for alcohol or other drug content of blood, breath, or urine;
- failed to complete the test;
- submitted to the test, and the result was 0.08 or higher BAC, or between 0.05 and 0.08 in violation of the law of the jurisdiction in which the vehicle in being operated if the jurisdiction imposes a suspension solely on the basis of the BAC level; or
- showed results indicating the presence of other drugs for an on–post apprehension or in violation of State laws for an off–post apprehension.
- The testing methods were valid and reliable, and the results were accurately evaluated.
For revocation actions for intoxicated driving, the revocation is mandatory on conviction or other findings that confirm the charge. Any plea of nolo contendere are considered equivalent to a plea of guilty. Revocations are effective as of the date of conviction or other findings that confirm the charges. Test refusal revocations will be in addition to any other revocation incurred during a hearing.
The hearing authority will determine if revocations for multiple offenses will run consecutively or concurrently, taking into consideration, if the offenses occurred on the same occasion or at different times or dates. The exception is that test refusal will be one-year automatic revocation in addition to any other suspension.
The notice that revocation is automatic may be placed in the suspension letter. If it does not appear in the suspension letter, a separate letter must be sent, and revocation is not effective until receipt of the written notice. Revocations cancel any full or restricted driving privileges that may have been restored during the suspension and the resolution of the charges. Requests for restoration of full driving privileges are not authorized.
Finding a Lawyer for Drunk Driving on a Military Base
The DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, are experienced in representing active duty military personnel in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Reserve, or National Guard.
Even non-DOD affiliated civilians can face a suspension, but only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in areas subject to military traffic supervision. Those civilians often include family members, contractors, and other individuals with installation driving privileges.
Suppose you received notice of a preliminary suspension because of a drunk or impaired driving allegation on a military installation, including MacDill Air Force Base. In that case, you need an experienced attorney to help you request an administrative hearing to ask for the suspension to be overturned.
We can also help you understand the process of getting permission to drive on base while the investigation is pending. If a criminal accusation is being filed in the U.S. District Court, we can help you fight that case to avoid a conviction or get the accusation completely dropped.
Contact the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the facts of your case and the best ways to fight the allegations. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
This article was last updated on Monday, August 21, 2023.